Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gephardt Is Facing Challenge in Party Another Congressman Seeks Leadership Job

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Gephardt Is Facing Challenge in Party Another Congressman Seeks Leadership Job

Article excerpt

Saying House Democrats need more responsive leaders with fewer ties to the White House, Rep. Charlie Rose, D-N.C., announced Monday that he was challenging Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri for minority leader.

"The current leadership has not listened to the people who elected them to lead," Rose said at a news conference. He added that Democrats needed to heed the voters' rejection of the party and change leaders while moving to the right.

Gephardt, the majority leader, said he thought he would be elected. He said a vote could come as early as Nov. 30, or later in that week, after the lame-duck session is scheduled to vote on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

"Both the president and all of us failed to deliver on results on the economy," he said. "That doesn't mean everything that was done was wrong. I have worked very hard to listen to members. I work with members on a daily basis."

As for Rose's suggestion that the House leadership needs to distance itself from Clinton, Gephardt said, "We will have ample opportunity in the next two years to both disagree individually and as a group."

Rose said Gephardt and Speaker Thomas S. Foley of Washington, who was defeated on Election Day, had not given members enough input into the legislative agenda.

"They were not in touch with us; they were in touch with the White House," he said.

Rose is considered a long shot against the popular Gephardt, who has been lining up votes for minority leader all week.

Rose was not the only Democrat calling for leadership changes Monday. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-Md., said he would oppose Rep. Vic Fazio for House Democratic Caucus chairman.

Mfume, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the election had been "a stinging rebuke to the status quo in Congress."

"For the Democratic Party to move ahead as if nothing had happened would be tantamount to suicide," he said.

Mfume said that he had not decided whom he would support for minority leader and that Democrats needed more time to talk among themselves before voting.

Mfume said the Democrats lost last week in part because the party's base did not turn out at the polls. …

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